American Adobo

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 12, 2002

Set among a circle of five friends in New York's Filipino American community, "American Adobo" takes its inspiration from "Eat Drink Man Woman," "Tortilla Soup" and other food-centric ethnic soap operas. Unfortunately, the script by Vincent R. Nebrida (which takes its title from the name of a kind of meat stew) tries to cram too many ingredients into one small pot.

There's Mike (Christopher De Leon), the unhappily married father of two, including a bratty teenage daughter; perennially cheated-upon socialite Marissa (Dina Bonnevie); caddish ladies' man and unsafe-sex practitioner Raul (Paolo Montalban); Tere (Cherry Pie Picache), a mousy accountant and gifted amateur chef headed for spinsterhood despite her kitchen know-how; and Gerry (Ricky Davao), a closeted gay adman with a judgmental Catholic mother back home.

Although the film is nicely acted, by and large, and handsomely shot, director Laurice Guillen lards too many of his melodramatic showdowns with strident profanity and the throwing of crockery and/or furniture. After a main course stuffed with innumerable infidelities and breakups, a life-threatening disease or two and a dangerous stovetop grease fire (not to mention themes of intergenerational, interracial, intergender and interclass conflict), who has room for dessert or other subtleties?

AMERICAN ADOBO (R, 102 minutes) Contains obscenity, brief nudity and sexual themes and situations. In English and Tagalog with English subtitles. At the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle 5.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company